Program Notes

Polonaise from Eugene Onegin, Opus 24 


BORN: May 7, 1840. Votkinsk, district of Viatka, Russia

DIED: November 6, 1893, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Tchaikovsky became totally drawn into Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin the moment someone had suggested it to him as material for an opera. In his “lyric scenes,” Tchaikovsky chose to dwell on the work’s pathos, something that came naturally to him by temperament. The Polonaise, on the other hand, is party music, something at which Tchaikovsky excelled and which he composed with unfailing verve and invention in his ballets, operas, and even from time to time in his symphonies and suites. This is music of the most glittering assemblage of tout Saint Petersburg.—Michael Steinberg

Michael Steinberg, the San Francisco Symphony’s Program Annotator from 1979 to 1999 and a contributing writer to our program book until his death in 2009, was one of the nation’s pre-eminent writers on music. We are privileged to continue publishing his program notes. His books are available at the Symphony Store in Davies Symphony Hall.

(July 2019)

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